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Walsh Asked To Stop BPD From Attending Israeli Training

Martin J. Walsh
Mayor Marty Walsh.
WGBH Forum Network

Peace activists want Mayor Marty Walsh to cancel the Boston Police Department's participation in an annual training seminar in Israel they say promotes militarized responses to public safety concerns.

Boston police have in the past attended the Leadership, Resilience and Counter-Terrorism Seminar which is set to start Sunday in Israel.

The Anti-Defamation League runs the training, which teaches techniques used by the Israeli National Police to combat terrorism.

Elsa Auerbach is an organizer with Jewish Voices for Peace, whose organization, along with several other religious and peace groups, warned Walsh in a letter that the Israeli training sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League is directed at how to put down local uprisings.

"We don't feel that these trips serve the interests of a safe Boston," Auerbach said. "We want the mayor, to whom the police department is accountable, to ensure that there are no Boston representatives on the upcoming Dec. 2 trip."

A BPD spokesman says two top-ranking officers plan to go for the training, which he said focuses on responses to suicide bombings and protecting transportation infrastructure. Commissioner William Gross has attended the training previously.

The ADL's website says the "week-long seminar enables participants to study the strategies used by the Israel National Police to deter and disrupt terror attacks and strengthen community resilience. Through briefings, presentations and site visits led by police commanders and experts from the defense and intelligence communities, participants gain a deeper understanding of Israel’s lessons learned in thwarting terrorism."

Auerbach disagrees that the lessons learned from Israeli police would be helpful in Boston.

"Much of this training is actually directed toward uprisings that are local," Auerbach said. "So for example, if there were to be a situation like what happened in Ferguson where there was a militarized police response."

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